A review of the Global Burden of Disease study (2016), which tracks the prevalence of deaths and diseases worldwide, contains some good news: On average people are living about a decade longer than they were in 1980. Which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. But there’s a catch: Health hasn’t improved as fast as life expectancy overall, which means that for many, those long, final years are spent hobbled by illness and disability.
The study, published this week in The Lancet and conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, uses a metric called “Disability Adjusted Life Years.” DALYs, as they’re abbreviated, combine the number of years of life a person loses if they die prematurely with the amount of time they spend living with a disability.
In rich countries, the number one cause of these DALYs is not surprising: ischemic heart disease, which is associated with well-known Western issues like high cholesterol and obesity. But the number two condition is a little strange: plain, old-fashioned, ever-present, low back and neck pain:
Even when you include poor and middle-income countries, low back and neck pain went from ranking 12th as a cause of DALYs globally in 1990 to ranking fourth in 2015, the most recent year. In most countries, it was the leading cause of disability. DALYs from low back and neck pain increased by more than 17 percent from 2005.
So what to do about it? Prevention and regular maintenance! In it’s simplest form…move, eat well and establish who your maintenance team is. Get up and away from your desk regularly, see your Massage therapist, your Chiropractor, whomever you choose to be on your ‘team’ and support it all with good, solid nutrition to nourish the demands placed on your body.
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